In covering area sports, a guy gets to meet some interesting people.
Enter Kelly Quinn, the head coach of CEC Cougars girls slo-pitch team. Quinn, who grew up in Charlottetown and Truro, has been a police officer for 10 years. A member of the Truro Police Service, Quinn is the CEC resource officer.
Quinn, a former infielder and catcher, played her early ball under coach Rollie Hayman in North River. She played local minor hockey for seven years – and later became an accomplished runner. She ran four full marathons, including the Boston Marathon in 2011. She also ran several half marathons. With the maiden name Manuel, she has to be the daughter of marathon runner Eric Manuel.
Wanting to give back to the community, Quinn coaches high school ball. As the fast-improving Cougars practiced recently at the Stadium Field, along the sidelines Quinn graciously talked ball. Discussions centred around the slo-pitch regionals to be played in Trenton today.
CEC, one of four competing teams, goes up against South Colchester Academy, East Hants Rural High and North Nova. The winning team punches a ticket to the provincial championship.
“Last year, our first year in slo-pitch, was a stepping stone,” Quinn said. “We have some returning players this year as well as a number of rookies. These girls are all very athletic and they’re really catching on.”
Quinn said the team began working out in the gym in mid-March.
“We were a little late getting outside on the field because of the weather. Our first time on the field was for a game. Since April 29, we’ve played around 12 games.”
Quinn described a great group of girls.
“Sometimes as a police officer you deal with some intense stuff, being around the team and these girls, it’s something that takes me away from everything else. It’s really good coaching, I really like it and it’s good to be able to give back.”
Quinn credited assistant coach Mike Spencer.
“Mike does so much, he’s really great to work with. Mike wants badly to help these girls improve.”
A graduate of CEC in 1999, Quinn played under coach Chris Bernard.
“In Miss Bernard’s day, it was fastpitch ball but this program would not be what it is today without her dedication and input. She was involved for more than 20 years coaching CEC girls ball.”
CEC players also shared their outlooks.
Shawndelle Fancy, 16, Valley, pitcher: “I played a few seasons in fastpitch ball in North River, then last year, I played slo-pitch for CEC. We have a lot of new players this year but we’re learning to play together. I feel we’ve come a long way as a team and from here, it’s only going to get better.”
As a pitcher, Fancy is confident the CEC team will keep improving. Fancy played midget AA hockey in 2018-19 for Wilsons Home Heating Cyclones.
Mariah Putnam, 17, Debert, centrefielder: “I played softball in Grade 10, my coach was Chris Bernard. I enjoyed playing, I was a little nervous at first.”
Putnam spoke about this year’s team. “We’re working hard to develop our skills. We want to place as high as we can at regionals. We have a good group of girls, we get along well together, encouraging each other to get better.”
A CEC volleyball player, Putnam will continue in volleyball next year at Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.
Jillian Higgins, 18, Bible Hill, second base: “We’ve really improved this season. We’ve come a long way since our first practice. I’m really excited about regionals in Trenton, this is completely different from other sports I was involved in. We want to absolutely do as well as we can, we have really good team spirit.”
Higgins played three seasons in basketball at CEC. A point guard, she was MVP in 2018. She also played centre-midfield for three years in soccer.
Haley Spencer, 17, Great Village, shortstop: “My early years, I played baseball in the Great Village baseball league. My Grade 10 year, I played fastpitch at CEC, last year was my first year playing slo-pitch. I enjoy playing shortstop, its one on the busiest positions. I think with the girls we have on this team, we’ll have a good ending to our season.”
In 2018-19, Spencer played hockey for both CEC Cougars and West Colchester Cougars, a midget house league team in Debert.
- Lyle Carter’s sports column appears weekly in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.